In the previous instalment of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf we left the title character held cpativei n a dungeon. So, with its werewolf confined, how can this penny dreadful keep up the blood and thunder? Answer: with sadistic nuns!
Chapter fourteen opens with Nisida visiting the Convent of Carmelite Nuns, which is something of a centrepoint for rumour:
Rumor was often busy with the affairs of the Carmelite Convent; and the grandams and gossips of Florence would huddle together around their domestic hearths, on the cold winter’s evenings, and venture mysterious hints and whispers of strange deeds committed within the walls of that sacred institution; how from time to time some young and beautiful nun had suddenly disappeared, to the surprise and alarm of her companions; how piercing shrieks had been heard to issue from the interior of the building, by those who passed near it at night,—and how the inmates themselves were often aroused from their slumbers by strange noises resembling the rattling of chains, the working of ponderous machinery, and the revolution of huge wheels.
Such food for scandal as those mysterious whispers supplied, was not likely to pass without exaggeration; and that love of the marvelous which inspired the aforesaid gossips, led to the embellishment of the rumors just glanced at—so that one declared with a solemn shake of the head, how spirits were seen to glide around the convent walls at night—and another averred that a nun, with whom she was acquainted, had assured her that strange and unearthly forms were often encountered by those inmates of the establishment who were hardy enough to venture into the chapel, or to traverse the long corridors or gloomy cloisters after dusk.
Inside, the abess hears from a nun about the murder of Agnes (“a young female, whom the worldly-minded outside these sacred walls denominate beautiful”) and the subsequent arrest of Fernand Wagner (“whom the worldly-minded style a young man wondrously handsome”). Nisida then disguises herself as a German cavalier and visits Wagner in his dungeon cell, making him swear that he did not kill Agnes. She offers to break him out, but he declines on the grounds that he would rather stay in captivity to prove his innocence.
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 7″